No. 176 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.176 Squadron was a defensive night fighter squadron that operated from bases in India from 1943 until the end of the Second World War. The squadron was formed in response to a number of small scale Japanese night raids on Calcutta in December 1942. A detachment from No.89 Squadron moved to Dum Dum from the Middle East, and the new squadron was formed on 14 January 1943.

The new squadron was almost immediately in action, when on the night of 15 January 1943 the Japanese Army Air Force sent a force of Ki-21s to attack Calcutta. Three of these aircraft fell to the Beaufighters, and more were lost in a second raid on 19 January. After this the night raids on Calcutta stopped for the rest of the year. As a result the squadron had a quiet year, spending most of its time flying patrols in the Calcutta area. A flight of AI-equipped Hurricanes arrived in May 1943. The next combat involved a detachment that moved to Ceylon in September 1943 to deal with a threat from Japanese reconnaissance aircraft. On 11 October a Japanese flying boat was shot down after a long chase. When the Japanese did return to Calcutta on 5 December it was during daylight, and the squadron's Hurricanes took part in the defence of the city, a fight that lost then four aircraft and two pilots killed. These losses left the Hurricane flight with too few aircraft to operate, and so it was re-equipped with Beaufighters.

In January 1944 the squadron began to operate over Burma from advanced bases, and in March a detachment moved to Imphal to take part in the defence against the Japanese attack. In August the squadron moved to southern India, with its main base on Ceylon and detachments near Madras. Only a detachment at Chittagong saw any significant action during this period. The squadron returned to Burma in April 1945, but once again Japanese opposition was limited. The squadron began to convert to the Mosquito in June, and operated that aircraft for nearly a year, disbanding on 31 May 1946.

Aircraft
January-December 1943: Bristol Beaufighter I
January 1943-July 1945: Bristol Beaufighter VI
May 1943-January 1944: Hawker Hurricane IIC
June-July 1945: de Havilland Mosquito XVI
July 1945-May 1946: de Havilland Mosquito XIX

Location
January-February 1943: Dum Dum
February 1943-August 1944: Baigachi
August 1944-March 1945: Minneriya
March 1945-May 1946: Baigachi

Squadron Codes: M, X, N

Duty
1 July 1944: No.293; Eastern Air Command; Air Command South-East Asia

Role
1943-1945: Night Fighter squadron, Far East

Books

Bristol Beaufighter, Jerry Scutts (Crowood Aviation). A detailed look at the development and service career of the Bristol Beaufighter, the first dedicated night fighter to enter RAF Service. Superceded by the Mosquito in that role, the Beaufighter went on to serve as a deadly anti-shipping weapon, and to earn the nickname "whispering death" over the jungles of Burma.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (17 January 2011), No. 176 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/176_wwII.html

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